Way back in the 1980s, there were tens of thousands of council homes all over the UK. Once a family had the keys to a council house, they were guaranteed a home for life – unless they broke the terms of the tenancy agreement.
In 1980, the then-Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher introduced the Right to Buy scheme. The scheme allowed tenants to buy their council houses at a significant discount.
This was credited as a major factor in increasing home ownership in the UK. It led to a sharp fall in the amount of available social housing. And with social housing in short supply, private landlords stepped into the breach.
The Right to Buy Scheme
The Right to Buy scheme was hailed as a transformative project. It allowed thousands of people to take a step on the housing ladder.
The scheme did have its problems. One problem being that former social housing properties, when privately owned were allowed to fall into disrepair. This then blighted local communities. It also led to a sharp fall in social housing investment.
A Lack of Affordable Housing
There is a serious lack of affordable housing in the UK. It can take years to reach the top of a local authority housing list. This pushes many families into the arms of rogue landlords, who charge extortionate rents for poor quality housing.
Council owned houses are not always in the best areas, but at least the council maintains them, modernises them, and fixes problems as and when they arise. In addition, rents are proportionate and there is very little chance of being evicted unless you make a nuisance of yourself.
Back in 1976, around 8,000 council homes were built. In recent years, it’s been a handful at best. But times are changing and councils are beginning to realise that they must invest in affordable housing for their residents.
New Council Homes in Wales
The BBC reports that several Welsh councils are building new council homes. With more than 66k people on housing waiting lists, the new home building scheme can’t come soon enough.
Anglesey, Flintshire, Pembrokeshire, Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan and Swansea are just a few of the Welsh towns and cities that are currently building more council homes. Cardiff Council plans to build 1k new homes by 2020.
This program is possible because the government has removed the cap on how much councils can borrow to fund projects like this. However, there is some concern that rents in brand new housing won’t be affordable for low-income tenants. With this in mind, Labour plans to conduct a review this summer.
“We want rents that are affordable for people. We don’t want to push people into housing poverty,” says Julie James, Labour’s housing minister.
Plaid Cymru says the program of investment is not enough and private investors and housing associations need to step up and do their bit too.
“It isn’t enough. They need to seriously ramp up those targets, seriously ramp up what’s being built,” Said Leanne Wood, housing spokesperson for Plaid Cymru.
Do you think the government should fund the construction of more social housing? Tell us more in the comments.
Read More Like This: